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But wait a minute, I have blond hair, blue eyes and my hair isn't nappy and I don't have

thick lips. So how can my great, great, etc. grandfather be a black African? It's all

from lines of genetic inheritance splitting apart and then coming together again.



A Paler Shade of Black

By Linda Beckerman, Ph. D.


The jig is up. Thanks to the genetics revolution we now know that there is no such thing as race. The Human Genome Project (HGP) has determined unequivocally that there is the same amount of genetic variation among individuals within a so called racial group as there is between individuals in different racial groups. What that means is that there is no real genetic difference between blacks and whites or between whites and Asians or between any of the so called races.

Wonder why it's been so hush-hush? I mean, you would think this would be big news. Certainly on the order of Galileo stating that the Earth goes around the Sun and not vice versa. But you haven't heard it on NBC or read it in your local newspaper.  It's more or less kept within the high brow community as if the common every day man in the street just couldn't take it. So you can read about it in the Atlantic Monthly or New York Times, but not your home town newspaper. And some professors on ivory tower college campuses are scrambling to prove it isn't so, just like there some who argue that Darwin was a fruitcake and evolution a stunt he pulled to grab the limelight. 

But if we are all one race, which race are we? One answer is the cute one that we are the "human race". But buckle your seat belts folks, because the genetic answer is that we are all really black. And white people are pale adaptations of black people that evolved during the past 140,000 years.

From whence does this white skin come? Weren't we all taught that it was the black people who evolved black skin and it happened so they would be protected from getting skin cancer?

Forget it. Scientists have thrown the whole notion out. Here's how evolution works. If you don't live long enough to reproduce, your genes are lost to the gene pool forever. There being no high school back when Humans came into being, females started reproducing around the age of 13. Skin cancer develops later in life when the female has already reproduced and her genes have entered the world gene pool. Bye, bye skin cancer theory.

What scientists now believe is that everyone started out with dark skin in the first place because it is protective against absorbing too much Vitamin D, which is toxic. Too much vitamin D causes calcium to be pulled from the intestines and bones and deposited in soft tissues all over the body, damaging the kidneys, heart and blood vessels. Dark skin screens out UV radiation and your body, which uses UV to produce Vitamin D, produces less of it - a real evolutionary advantage at the lower latitudes where we began.

So where did the 10,000+ shades of paler brown, beige, pink, white and what Crayola crayons used to call "flesh" come from? Archaeological data places the origin of genetically modern humans in sub-Saharan Africa approximately 140,000 years ago. Humans then began migrating out of Africa in successive waves, starting approximately 100,000 years or 5000 generations ago. Now that scientists have mapped the human genome, they are homing in on when each wave began their outward bound journey and where they migrated to. So far they have confirmed that everyone on the entire planet, even the 1.3 billion Chinese, have a common ancestor back in Africa.

For example, the first wave appears to have been a migration to the Middle East and then eastward and northward from there. Some geneticists studying the human genome map believe that in a later north moving wave, which occurred about 60,000 years ago, a mere 50 people inbred together across successive generations to create all the people who now occupy Europe (excluding recent immigrants, of course).

But wait a minute, I have blond hair, blue eyes and my hair isn't nappy and I don't have thick lips. So how can my great, great, etc. grandfather be a black African? It's all from lines of genetic inheritance splitting apart and then coming together again.

Lines of genetic inheritance, or lineages, split apart when there is a mutation that is evolutionarily advantageous, meaning the mutation makes it more likely for someone to reproduce greater numbers of offspring that survive. Someone with a non-advantageous mutation has offspring that are less likely to survive.

So as humans migrated out of Africa, why did dark-skinned people start losing the genetics Powerball Lottery to their paler kin? Lower UV levels in the sunlight of the more northern latitudes meant a dark-skinned individual's body could not produce enough Vitamin D. Insufficient Vitamin D would then result in a child developing rickets. A child with rickets would not likely reproduce either because it would die before it could or because its pelvis would be so deformed it could not pass a child through the birth canal. Its genes would be lost forever. So lighter skin, and more absorption of Vitamin D at higher latitudes would be an adaptive genetic advantage. 

Interestingly, in high latitudes where some people still retain dark skin, such as with the Inuit in the Arctic, the people obtain significant amounts of Vitamin D from eating fish and sea mammal blubber.

Seal blubber aside, what about all the other features that make us look so different? Mutations that endure are often advantageous to specific climates. For example, the tall thin body of the Masai warrior dissipates heat while the short squat body of the Inuit retains it.  Long northern European noses moisten and warm the air before it reaches lungs, while in Africa short noses remain because the air is already moist and warm. The Asian's eyelid folds protect their eyes against dry sandy desert winds and wind driven snow. In the far north, light sensitive blue eyes allow people to see better when it is dark much of the year. The tightly coiled hair of the African keeps the hair off his neck so he remains cooler. All these diverse physical features promote the promulgation of different lines of inheritance, or ethnic lineages.

Countering this splitting apart of ethnic lineages is the melding through interbreeding between different ethnic lineages. If you walk the Silk Road from Persia to China, across the southern flank of Asia, you will see a continuum of physical feature change. You will not be able to tell where the European look ends and the Asian begins. Remember all those shots during our assault on the Taliban in Afghanistan and the TV scans of Afghani children? How many looked European and how many looked Asian?

Many mechanisms for melding ethnic lineages have been at play. The rape part of the plunder and pillage drill by invaders, traders passing through with silver to buy bedtime favors, marriages for political convenience to form alliances between not so friendly tribes, and the boy and girl from neighboring tribes sneaking out for a little tryst under the stars, have all contributed to the recombining of diverse ethnic lineages.

So what we have instead of the meaningless terms Caucasian, Negro, Asian, etc., is a large multiplicity of ethnic lineages, all of whom descended from only a single black race. So don't forget, next time you fill in the U.S. Census you should write in the word Black next to the question about your race, regardless of your shade of pale.

Copyright by Linda Beckerman, Ph.D. November 2002


A recent escapee from Corporate America, Dr. Linda P. Beckerman spent over 20 years as a Program Manager for the USAF and several U.S. Defense Contractors. She quickly gained a reputation for her ability to take an immature technology out of the research lab and successfully transition it to engineering and production. Her reward for this talent was to be handed multi-million dollar programs in dire trouble to salvage and restore to successful track. As she salvaged each program, she was handed yet another, since the defense industry has no shortage of badly managed programs.

During this time, she became a student of the late Col. John Boyd (USAF, Ret'd), who is considered by many to be the greatest military strategist the United States military ever produced.  From him she learned "not to let the system own" her and that what really matters is to "survive on your own terms."As a result, she quit being a salaried employee and became an independent consultant. She refused jobs from customers who merely wanted advice and only accepted those where she had an active role in straightening out the customers' problems. Her customers included a U.S. Defense Department Joint Program Office and U.S. and International corporations. While a consultant, she also held regular staff positions on several company organization charts.

As a female in mostly male-dominated engineering fields, the role of independent consultant was a huge success since her earnings doubled while working only half the amount of time previously spent while salaried. She also had a lot of fun. The bad news was many stretches of time living in hotels away from home. 

In a moment of sheer insanity Dr. Beckerman agreed to teach a graduate level systems engineering course at the University of Central Florida, an experience she did not repeat.

As a typical corporate clone, Dr. Beckerman published a lot of papers. These span a large variety of scientific and technical subjects. As an independent consultant she published four more papers, all related to the application of complexity science.

Dr. Beckerman has now achieved full financial independence. While she is not independently wealthy, being independently lower class isn't bad either. She gets to wear her pajamas and slippers all day if she wishes. She lives on 5.67 acres in the rural southern countryside where she has four hens and a rooster. They are healthy and run around in the green grass and sunshine and the hens lay eggs that taste the way they are supposed to and aren't filled with hormones and antibiotics. She also has a large flower garden, a small vegetable garden, and many fruit trees and berry bushes.

Her dream for now and the future is to be a radical political journalist.  She wants to wake everybody up because this is the only planet we have and we are all on it together.

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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Panther Baby

A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention

By Jamal Joseph

In the 1960s he exhorted students at Columbia University to burn their college to the ground. Today he’s chair of their School of the Arts film division. Jamal Joseph’s personal odyssey—from the streets of Harlem to Riker’s Island and Leavenworth to the halls of Columbia—is as gripping as it is inspiring. Eddie Joseph was a high school honor student, slated to graduate early and begin college. But this was the late 1960s in Bronx’s black ghetto, and fifteen-year-old Eddie was introduced to the tenets of the Black Panther Party, which was just gaining a national foothold. By sixteen, his devotion to the cause landed him in prison on the infamous Rikers Island—charged with conspiracy as one of the Panther 21 in one of the most emblematic criminal cases of the sixties. When exonerated, Eddie—now called Jamal—became the youngest spokesperson and leader of the Panthers’ New York chapter. He joined the “revolutionary underground,” later landing back in prison. Sentenced to more than twelve years in Leavenworth, he earned three degrees there and found a new calling. He is now chair of Columbia University’s School of the Arts film division—the very school he exhorted students to burn down during one of his most famous speeches as a Panther.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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update 28 March 2012




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Related files: Tell the Truth   A Paler Shade of Black   Telling the Truth about Africa  African Background of the Negro